Guest Column

What ¡Aquí! Milwaukee Really Represents
June 6, 2005

By Robert Miranda

“Taking Sides”
Milwaukee Spanish Journal

According to Ben Bagdikian, author of the book, The Media Monopoly, about 50 corporations controlled this nation’s vast news media outlets in 1983. In 1992, Bagdikian published his 4th edition where he wrote “in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media”. Bagdikian predicted that in time our mass media networks will be controlled by less than a half dozen corporations. Of course, he was ridiculed for making such assertions, but nonetheless, Bagdikian stuck to his guns and predicted we would soon see our media industry controlled (monopolized) by one super-giant corporation. In 2000, Bagdikian published his 6th edition of The Media Monopoly and reported that six corporations now controlled our nation’s media news service and the mergers continue today.

In 2004, Bagdikian revised and expanded his book, The New Media Monopoly, where he shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — have control of most of the media industry in the U.S.

I raise this issue because we are witnessing a serious threat to our local democracy. The monopolizing of the media continues unchecked. With this growing corporate threat in the media, it becomes easy for the elite class in our society to uniformly discredit even mild resistance to their political power and treat as illegitimate any critical views by subjecting those views to censorship and ridicule by their mass media networks.

The growth of the “information superhighway”, mainly due to the internet, has provided American citizens with new avenues for media, but the growth of independent media is lacking and unable to compete with the rising commercial media now reaching into markets in neighborhoods it once ignored.

The media monopoly in Milwaukee, under the direction of Journal Communications, Inc., has created an integrated mass communications system effectively operating for the use of local Lords and Counts who operate neighborhood fiefdoms from their “non-profit” castles.

Acting as royal surrogates selected to control local populations, these “established leaders” direct and influence the corporate media away from the voices of dissent and direct them to the incantation of the sublime who sing the praises and signify the importance of the corporate class in our society.

Indeed, Journal Communications, Inc. monopoly now reaches into the Hispanic community with a bimonthly magazine called ¡Aquí!. Much like it has done with “MKE” and CNI Newspapers, Journal Communications, Inc looks to tap into new markets for profit. At the same time, Journal Communications, Inc will be establishing new local media barons who will create relationships with the elite class of our community while ignoring and distancing themselves from legitimate grass-roots voices in opposition to “established leadership” actions and decisions.
The danger of this kind of local media monopoly to our democratic culture is well documented.
The threat that this media-monopoly corporation presents to the independent media voices in our city is well known among many publishers of community newspapers and other local media outlets not connected to Journal Communications, Inc.
Indeed, challenging the forces that inundate society in commercial information is a duty of the independent media networks. Providing alternative media voices prevent the elite from being the only beneficiaries of the “Information Age”. The media, as Prof. Robert W. McChesney, author of the book, Corporate Media & the Threat to Democracy argues, “…have ceased providing a foundation for freedom and democracy, and instead have become a pervasively anti-democratic force both in the US and abroad.”

¡Aquí! Milwaukee does not represent the growing influence of the Latino community as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin wants us to believe; it represents the tentacles of a growing media monopoly which is increasingly concentrating corporate control of the media; consequently, creating a disastrous future for our local democracy.

There is no question that Latinos and progressives must maintain alternative media outlets. In addition, local media publishers and editors must confront the corporate media head-on through direct challenges and action and other creative tactics. The corporate elite’s propaganda must be de-legitimized in the minds of the people, who already suspect the information being given to them by the corporate media.

There is no choice but to challenge their hegemony.
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